Savitri and Me

In the mid-nineties I took a lengthy class with a Sufi master that included some private counseling sessions. During one of those he stopped midstream, staring over my shoulder, and mentioned that he always saw the Goddess Savitri standing over my shoulder and wanted to know if I could feel her.

Well, no, not only had I never heard of Savitri, but I’d definitely never noticed an entity standing at my shoulder. He felt strongly that I should work on sensing into her and learn about who she was. Over the next several years I periodically ran internet searches on Savitri and also tried to find a small statue of her. I don’t know how many of you remember how incredibly primitive internet searches were in those days, but suffice it to say I could find very little.

Savitri is a Hindu goddess who is an aspect of Saraswati. She’s considered an inspirer of speech and word; since I’ve always been a writer and have a long-standing interest in questions of communication as well, it seemed fitting. But I couldn’t find much more. There’s also a mythic Hindu story of a Savitri who I gather was human and I just found the two different tales confusing. Any hunt for a statue of Savitri seemed to lead only to various statues of Saraswati.

I pretty much gave up on the pursuit of knowledge about her or a picture or statue and concentrated on feeling the link. Eventually I felt I had made a connection and have tuned in periodically to commune with her ever since.

Fast forward to recent years, when I’ve moved increasingly into chanting. Six or seven years ago I started a regular chanting practice in which I first spoke the lovingkindness chant and then sang the Gayatri, to which I felt very drawn. Then in 2020, early in the pandemic, Deva Premal and her husband Miten began doing online Gayatri sessions which morphed into a Global Gayatri Sangha with membership and an app and weekly Gayatri. I’ve been participating from fairly near the beginning and feeling ever more connected to the world of singing chants.

Imagine my surprise and delight a couple of weeks ago when Deva introduced a chant to Saraswati and it sparked me to look up Savitri for the first time in years, which led to discovering Savitri is also “Gayatri” and the chant we sing is considered to be Savitri’s. It felt like such a completion of a circle.

I also discovered it’s much easier to find information about her now and to obtain a statue if I decide I still want one. I still find a lot of the commentary confusing and different writers handle all the stuff about “aspects” of goddesses, etc. differently. Some writers consider the Savitri in a story in which she’s married to someone else and seems to be human as the same Savitri who’s a goddess and married to Brahma. Some don’t mention the second story. And the discourse on Savitri vs Saraswati and “aspects” is widely varied. So the connection to Saraswati remains hazy to me; some sources speak of them as if it’s the same being and some discuss the “aspect” thing. But the story of her becoming one with Gayatri and the chant being hers was clear.

I love how the Universe guides us along these paths and brings things together whether we “know” what’s going on or understand all the connections or not.

Some Savitri links:

Seeking Savitri

Something like 18 years ago I studied for a short time with a Sufi master whom I’d known for a few years. The invitation-only class included a private session with him. During our session he stared over my shoulder at one point and told me that he always saw the figure of the goddess Savitri standing right behind my shoulder and wanted to know if I was aware of her presence.

I’d completed the Fischer-Hoffman work at that time and I’d been doing yoga and getting body work for years so I’d opened a lot, but a lot of my muscles were still twisted like rods and a certain amount of numbness still prevailed, so no, Savitri hung around beyond my consciousness. It took a lot of research to learn about Savitri–and there’s a lot of contradictory material—who is an aspect or manifestation of Saraswati (Goddess of learning and the arts) that is the hymn to the sun. I thought that sounded lovely but I still didn’t feel her presence.

The Sufi teacher gave me a chant to do that involved bringing sun energy and golden light into my heart and moving it into second chakra to infuse the power there with heart and light and then to bring the infused power and red energy up to the heart to support it in opening. He told me to visualize Savitri enfolding me and assisting, sending light from her heart to mine. Some time later while taking a course on Huichol art and philosophy I made the above string painting depicting (as best my limited art skills could) a version of the chant and the vision. I chanted and envisioned and it brought me a sense of being closer to her but I still could not feel her presence.  Over the years I tuned in and maintained an awareness that she walked with me even though I could not feel her.

Years later when more of my body had opened, Savitri began to appear in a couple of different meditations I like to do in which you call upon guides or a council to advise you. In the last few years with my muscles opening more and more I started to experience her presence more often and in the recent round of opening I have felt her join me in the circle during meditation.

For me the twisted mass of muscles and intertwined patterns in my muscles served as body armor. I thought for a long time that the main point of the body armor was protection from other people. While the armor served that function as well, I can see now that the armor also served to keep me from a lot of spiritual experience. I wrote a while ago about shutting down my ability to receive information through my third eye and the pattern of muscle twisting in my face served to reinforce that block.

Again, I know that the issues in my muscles have been worse than most people experience, but I can’t help but think that a certain amount of tension and tightness serves to block energy and/or awareness of other dimensions for a lot of people, whether it’s a total block or just an impediment to receiving all the information. Another reason it’s a good idea to take care of the health of your muscles.